At the fishtank today, I sat down to lunch with mrs toronto’s greatest chef in exile. The man himself was doing his thing in the kitchen. He feeds the fish all summer long. But the conversation at lunch today was one that I immediately thought to bring on the communique.
At one point we were discussing how many Dutch people complain about how everything is “boring” here. Trams run on time, pay checks are decent, things generally work… which apparently gets annoying. You’ll often hear them plotting to move to Spain or Italy, where they believe the laid back pace is the perfect way to life.
On the other hand, I mentioned, many if not most people in Portugal get utterly fed up with buses not showing up on time, crap salaries, and generally how things don’t work. They talk of moving to richer countries, like the UK or France.
Grass is greener on the other side? I don’t think so… I think some people just don’t appreciate how good they’ve got it while the rest of the world dreams of having such a situation.
One of the reasons I left the united states had to do with debt. No – I didn’t owe any. No I wasn’t in trouble with the mob (hell, I was their favorite reporter). But the mere fact that I didn’t have any type of debt made me an exception – a weirdo. Everyone around me, neighbors, friends, strangers – all had debt.
The kind I knew about was the credit card kind. Tons of friends had it, I almost felt left out. At university there were always tables set up offerring students crack in exchange for a new mastercard with a picture of a forest on it. I was tempted by the forest. I had friends who just needed a new tshirt, so they filled out the paperwork. But for some odd reason, I never accumilated debt.
To me it was inevitable. If I stayed around, in this environment, where debt was a way of life, I would ultimately get some. Which some people would tell me, would be a good thing. – I admit, I’m no economist – but I still didn’t want any, and I worried at how normal it was.
So bam — I moved to Europa. Portugal first, where most transactions were paid through my bankcard (debit). If I didnt have the money, I wouldn’t buy it. No choice in the matter really. Then here in Amsterdam, again – the beautiful bank card. Admitedly, I’ve tried to get a credit card here, but aparently my laughable salary isn’t enough to have the right to get one. Makes me laugh at those college years, where all I needed was a pulse.
But I’m known to be crazy. Where are you all in relation to debt? Me, Im 25 and I feel lucky, I still have none. Course some things don’t change, like so many – I barely get by.
There was a time when I was always in the middle of it. The demonstrations, the political discussions, the cool mob-related scandles… THOSE were the days. I even had my Israeli manufactured gas-mask shipped to me in Europe, to be prepared for all those protests and other rebellious events, I would be attending over here.
But four years on – nothing. During an EU summit in seville, I missed the activist bus, which was turned away at the border with spain anyway. For all the anti-war demos I attended in the Netherlands, it was so calm and organized, I don’t remember seeing any police. Add to that, the general feeling of skepticism that has set in, for anything related to the democratic process and the masses; its clear I haven’t attended a crazy event in ages.
And then I hear about meetings like What the Hack, which will take place in the south of the netherlands next month, while Im in portugal, and I think to myself… dammit. I want to camp for a weekend with international hackers, and make networks out of coconut shells and that sort of thing. But then, just to pour salt on my boring wounds, I read about the Hack-Train they’ve rented, which will be travelling through Germany to the NL passing through various conventions relating to technology and rebellious society…. a TRAIN! dam dam dam. I’m never in on the action anymore.
1 AudioCommunique #45 – Dad Remembers Dictatorship
1.1 Today’s Show features my father’s experience immigrating from Portugal to the US in the 60’s, and more specifically; what it was like to live under a dictatorship.
1.2 First I have to mention listener mail; Brandon in China, Lotte in Amsterdam, Frank of the Overnightscape, its so cool to get email from other shows.
1.3 I miss VivaPodcast… come back Greg and Lisa!
2 On the Skype with Dad
2.1 Portugal and the fascist regime in the 1950’s.
2.2 Clandestine Behavior by doctors, students, etc.
2.3 Poor but happy
2.4 The decision to move to the US
2.4.1 The draft for the colonial wars in Africa and India. (Angola, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, and what was almost a war in Goa, India.
2.5 Newark. NJ over the decades
2.6 Familiar ingredients of fascism in the US.